Recently there have been many sweeps in and around the Hawthorne Bridge area. Many people have reported that private security companies have engaged in these sweeps. Companies like Clean & Safe and Pacific Patrol Services have been spotted at many of these sweeps. Storing the belongings taken from the sweeps, and having private security companies do this, is against Oregon law. Specifically, ORS 203.079 Section 1) Part d) says “All unclaimed personal property shall be given to law enforcement officials whether 24-hour notice is required or not.” “Law enforcement officials” as defined by this code would be referring to the local police— in our case Portland Police Bureau. Therefore, if any private companies or “Rent-a-Cops” are storing any of your property after a sweep, they are violating state law. These hired security forces are not “law enforcement” and do not have the authority as outlined in ORS 203.079.
By: Ibrahim Mubarak
I Ibrahim wind down from a hard day’s work by watching a movie. Sometimes I watch the Propaganda News media. I happened to be watching Channel 8 KGW News when they were talking about a new crime spree that’s been happening in Portland Oregon. People’s bikes are being stolen at a high rate. Bike thieves are even going so far as to saw through the bike stands that the bikes are locked onto.
What I saw on the News was a camera man sneaking up on a group of homeless people fixing their bikes (I admit they had a few bikes). The man behind the camera was asking them and kept asking them what were they doing, and if those were stolen bikes that they were taking apart. The news reporter made it seem like the houseless people were the thieves who go around town stealing bikes. All I could hear in response was “get that f–king camera out of my face”. Who says that they didn’t find the bike parts?
So what is happening is that now the Police have come up with a Bike Task Force— they go around asking people if they have a receipt for their bike (so, if you can’t produce it, they will confiscate your bike until you can produce proof). Now who in the name of common sense carries around a f–king receipt? I’ve had my bike for five years, and I sure don’t know where my receipt is. I believe that we should do a Direct Action and protest against this unjust imposed law that is targeting the houseless community— everyone gather in a large group and ask the Police if THEY have a receipt for THEIR bikes!!
Be very careful. I’m just saying it’s not even safe for us to have transportation. They are trying to stop our movements. Do they ask the HOUSED people for a receipt? I’m just saying. . .
A Farewell Thank You
Being a member of R2DToo, or “Dreamer” as we call ourselves — I like the people I’ve met, and I’ll miss a lot of the overnighters, as you can’t help but get attached to people when you see them daily. Being here gave me a safe place to stay instead of being in a park, and not sleeping for fear of harassment. My son and I used to ride the train around all day, for a safe place to be during the day. Being here gave us the time to find a place that we would be accepted; because of my son’s history, finding a safe and affordable place to be is really hard. I’ll really miss everyone at Right 2 Dream Too, and am very grateful to everyone for all they have done for us. Thanks to R2DToo, we have gotten our place and are moving in on Friday March 20 at 4.
*Dawn and her son are the 214th and 215th people, who have stayed at and utilized Right 2 Dream Too, that have found housing.
R2S Goes to Tucson
By: Lisa Fay
Earlier this month (March 2015), with the help of believers from GoFundMe and a grant from the MRG Foundation, Right 2 Survive (R2S) was welcomed back to Tucson, Arizona to work with leaders of Right 2 Dream, Tucson and Safe Park. While there, we engaged in meetings to discuss the next steps on their plans for making the future brighter for the houseless folks down there.
We and local activists spoke at a meeting, held by the city of Tucson, to come up with solutions that would work for all of Tucson’s downtown dwellers. Also present were local business owners, shelter heads, and the Diocesan Bishop. In that meeting, discussions around housing, as well as traffic of houseless in front of businesses, were of great concern. R2S shared a power point of five of the tent cities and rest areas in Oregon and of other working models from around the country—all of which are low cost temporary solutions to houselessness that can be implemented and maintained using self-governance, while alleviating costs to the city and surrounding businesses.
We also attended a federal court hearing that ruled that sleeping in “pods” in a public space as a means of “Free Speech Protest” is a City matter and is to be determined by the City, not a federal judge. The City of Tucson responded swiftly. Within 3 hours of the ruling, the City had police officers posting eviction notices on all the sleep pods that lined the sidewalks in the Safe Park area. Folks were given 3 days to move their sleep pods and tents, or these would be confiscated. The police brought out the mental health task force to evaluate folks; and if they wanted, they could go into a mental health facility immediately, but (the mental health task force) couldn’t provide any social service assistance.
Sadly, for the estimated 3,000 unhoused residents, Tucson is considering adopting Denver’s harsh sidewalk ordinances that strictly controls the houseless movements in their public areas, and infringe on their Civil, Constitutional and Human Rights. R2S spoke about the Houseless Bill of Rights Campaign with interested parties, and helped folks understand the need for protection from criminalization based on housing status. In Arizona, certain felonies prevent folks from receiving any type of public assistance (i.e. food stamps, health care, welfare and housing assistance).
R2S also used the time to do interviews for their radio show (that airs on KBOO 90.7fm), and video recorded some of the things they witnessed. The radio interviews will air on April 8th @ 6pm. The videos will take some time to edit and format. We will let everyone know when they are finished, and they will be found here: https://vimeo.com/channels/right2survive
Some follow-up from the removal of the pods from downtown: Temporarily, they have a place, and folks can still stay protesting for their rights on the downtown streets of Tucson. Meetings, like the ones we participated in with community leaders, are still going on to find answers. Open dialogue is critical!
Next stop: R2S’s Ibrahim Mubarak, Ptery Light, and Faduma (from Groundworks Portland) are off to Denver for a national conference on houselessness— to be attended by Activist and Critical thinkers from East to West coasts— with the intent to unify organizations across the country who are all doing similar work, and to create a national network that addresses the injustices that the houseless struggle with as a community.
Connect with Right 2 Survive
My name is Rod
I want to thank R2DToo for allowing me to become a member and supporter. I also believe in R2DToo and thank them for helping out the community, giving shelter for those who need it, feeding and clothing people here at R2DToo as well as on The Under the Bridge Walk.
I also want to thank the people who donate food and clothes to us. Also, a big thank you to John, who donates his time and truck to help us in washing our sleeping bags. And Max the wonder dog. Thank you all!
Houseless Breathing Study
It’s damp; the dew turns to mold quick if you’re not airing the tent out on a daily. That black mold can be harmful and easily be treated by getting one simple breathing test.
Maybe even all that exposure to the other elements of living outside has you breathing less efficiently? You don’t even have to go to the doctors or have health care to find out.
Right 2 Dream Too is doing a study to see how being houseless affects your breathing. Signups to participate (on Friday) can be done at the security desk, located at NW 4th and Burnside. A half hour process (that is anonymous) can give you an idea of your lung function. It’s as simple as inhaling and exhaling; and a follow up about the results can be made.
Come and see the results, you may breathe easier afterwards knowing them.
We Deserve It
As a houseless man, I get stuck in the stereotype of being a drug addict and an alcoholic; however, I am neither. People see me, my wife, and our dog and assume that we are trouble based on our looks- which consist of tattoos, piercings and of course, a Mohawk. But the reality is we aren’t.
As a kid I was always told not to judge a book by its cover, yet people so easily do. Just because we are houseless does not mean we are lazy, criminals, addicts, or anything less than human. We are still people. We still have needs, wants, and dreams. We, although temporarily houseless, still deserve the dignity and respect that all human beings desire. We are no different than the suits that swarm city hall in a hurry to get nowhere. In the end, aren’t we all just mice in a maze looking for our piece of heavenly cheese?
New in Town
By: Sarah, Jerry and Ryker
Life is not always kind, and it is rarely fair. For my husband and I, it had been pretty amazing until a dis-heartful, bitter woman stumbled across our path. Our lives took a downward spiral from productive, housed people to broke and street bound in a matter of minutes. Our lives have been shattered and every possession lost; but as we have always said, we always have each other.
We wound up lost in a crazy new place with only one recommendation, R2DToo. As we walked up to the doors, terrified that we would be turned away because of our 70 pound pit bull, we were surprised to see people who cared. People took the time to answer every question and help relieve some of our fears. Working through the line to sleep was stressful and confusing, but we were welcomed with open minds, open hearts, and open arms.
Right to Dream Too has opened its doors to us, and our minds and hearts, to the amazing organization that so easily welcomed us. R2DToo has given us a helping hand when we fell, an encouraging word when we were down, and the dreams to know that this is just a moment in time and a step closer to our goals.
When we thought all was lost and no one cared, strangers welcomed us and became our friends. We will be forever grateful for everything that R2DToo has given us. Thank you all so much!
I Ibrahim had the privilege to go to Jackson, Mississippi on the week of May 3rd to the 7th of 2014. What I thought it would be and what it actually was were very different. The City itself was like a ghost town, same as Detroit. I saw very few people, except where the Jackson Rising event was and at the National Planning Committee for the United States Social Forum.
As I do, when I go to new places, I walk around the city looking for houseless people or houseless camp sites. I saw a couple of guys, and we talked. However, it was brief. They were in a hurry to go eat; and as we were departing, ones ask if I had a card and said they need help with the houseless community in Jackson, Mississippi.
I arrived on the last day of the Jackson Rising Conference, and saw some people that I met in my travels. We had conversations, and came up with one thing (and I hope this is safe to say ‘cause I’m saying it anyway): Why is it all the CC’s (Chocolate Cities) like Detroit Mi. Jackson, MS. have no funding? Why aren’t there any grocery stores around in the inner part of the city? Conclusion is, we need to stop all this talking and start doing something.
Right to Rest Act
After years of fighting for a bill, we finally have gotten our Homeless Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 629! If this bill passes, it will give every houseless individual several rights, including the right to sleep undisturbed without worry of being harassed by private security and police. It will also allow people to cover themselves, as well as sleep in their vehicles, as long as they are legally parked.
Oregon, California, and Colorado are three states that are trying to get bills passed, although Oregon is the only state with a bill this year. We are extremely grateful to Senator Chip Shields who is our champion, and backed this very important bill for us. Thank you Senator Shields.
How You Can Write a Newsletter Article
Hey you. If you are reading this, chances are you have just received a copy of the Right 2 Survive biweekly newsletter or you are reading this on our Facebook or blog. Every two weeks we get individuals from in and around the houseless community to share their stories on events, issues, concerns, actions and experiences that occur in our community. Our newsletter articles can come from anybody, anywhere, not just from people involved in Right 2 Dream Too and Right 2 Survive.
I was unsure if people who read the newsletter, on our Under the Bridges Walk, were aware they could also write in the newsletter as well; and so as the Bridges Walk Coordinator, I wanted to tell people that they can also share their stories too. If you need something to write about, look at your local neighborhood. How is your neighborhood association treating houseless people? Are there cops harassing houseless folks in your area? Have you been directly targeted? Have there been camping notices put up? Do you know of any events or actions coming up? Do you know of any meetings or organizations you or someone you know are a part of and want to speak about them?
If you or someone you know has any of these experiences, we encourage you to share them with us. By sharing these experiences we can all better understand each other, know what our common struggles are, and be in a position to stand in stronger solidarity with one another. That is what this newsletter stands for.
You can submit your article to Right 2 Survive by the 1st and 3rd Mondays by 5pm, the day before the bridge walk. You can also submit them to the front desk at Right 2 Dream Too at NW 4th & Burnside (or ask about how you can use our computers to type an article). If an article doesn’t make it into our newsletter, we will try to put it our next newsletter or in our blog.
Your stories will be greatly appreciated! We would love to hear and share the truth on the streets. Spread the word!
A Safe Place
Cold wind blows through me like light through glass.
Constant clicking of rain against the tarps deafens me.
Sirens wail in unison to the psychotic streets.
My eyes are heavy with desperation.
My mind races with fears of the night.
Wrapped tightly in my husband’s arms
A tear streams out with my worries.
Knowing the cold reality of tomorrow
I feel safe if only for a moment.
I am surrounded by gates of comfort.
The doors close out the creatures of my thoughts.
Warm breaths of others fill the air as I drift to sleep.
Cradled in his arms, wrapped in love.
Enclosed in shelter guarded by everyday heroes.
Imagine the Sheriff…
The sheriff showed up at your door one morning, accompanied by a Portland police officer. The officer proceeds to force open your door, without knocking, exclaiming “Police, time to wake up!”…
The officer immediately enters your home, putting on blue rubber gloves, as if you and your home were diseased. No reason is given for their intrusion, and warrant is presented. The sheriff, one hand on his gun, waves his inmate work crew into your home, where they look around eagerly, waiting to be told what to do.
The officer walks through your home, pointing at each of your belongings, and the inmates eagerly grab them over your protests. They take each item to a trailer, where they are tossed onto a pile to be thrown out. You watch in horror as your clothing, bedding, stove, pots and pans, family photos, passport and furniture are taken away.
The officer answers your increasingly desperate protests with a threat to arrest you for interfering with a police officer if you continue to object. You are told you don’t need what has been taken, or that you cannot legally possess it. When you beg them not to return the next day, the officer tells you that if you leave and never return, the harassment will end. But you know better.
Others wait in the neighboring communities, ready to do the same. The uniformed officers leave as abruptly as they came, moving to your neighbor’s house, and on down your block. You know that as bad as this was, the next visit could be the one where your home could be torn down, and your remaining possessions taken from you. If you are lucky, you will have 24 hours to save what you can carry.
This is not an imagined scenario. It is happening every day on our streets. It is the holocaust of the houseless. For the houseless, this unbelievable, illegal violation of both the law and their individual constitutional rights is an everyday occurrence. Laws against crimes like theft, and constitutional protections such as the fourth amendment right to be secure in your belongings and papers, or the 5th and 14th amendment guarantees of due process, do not seem to apply. Conspiracy is not a paranoid delusion for these individuals, but brutal reality.
The County Sheriff, local police and private security, backed by the money and influence of the PBA and other representatives of business interests, work together in a conscious effort to deprive the houseless of their safety, security, belongings, and protection from the elements.
Meanwhile, the City makes a public show of demonstrating its concern by convening commissions, committees and work groups to end homelessness, while those sworn to protect and serve all citizens work daily to end homelessness by chasing the homeless out of Portland. The 10-year plan to end homelessness died a slow death, and its heir, A Home for Everyone, in a bizarre incarnation of social triage, has already made the concession that there will be no homes for the single largest group of homeless individuals: single men. As if to sweep this truth away, the effort to clear the houseless from under every bridge, out of every doorway, off every sidewalk in the City is in full swing.
ODOT, the Portland Police, Multnomah County Sheriff, Portland Patrol Inc. and Pacific Patrol Services work together in this misguided mission. Forced to move away from services that are centered on Old Town, the houseless are entering surrounding neighborhoods in large numbers, bringing fear and backlash against them from residents and businesses.
artwork by: Sarah
Homeless in America
Imagine if you will a world where it is illegal to sit down. Could you survive if there were no place to fall asleep, to store your belongings, or to sit or stand still? For homeless people across America, these circumstances are an ordinary part of daily life. In America people are criminalized on a daily basis for just trying to survive. Sitting, standing, sleeping, and eating in public in many cities in the US are illegal.
According to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, homeless people are criminally punished for being in public, even when they have no alternatives. Homelessness is caused by a severe shortage of affordable housing, and fewer emergency shelter beds than homeless people. Despite a lack of affordable housing and shelter space, many cities have chosen to criminally punish people living on the street for doing what any human being must do to survive.
In Portland for example, there used to be a “sit/lie” ordinance that made it illegal for people to sit or lie on a sidewalk. There is still a law that makes it illegal to cover yourself if you are lying in a park, or public space. Other laws affecting homelessness include: camping in public, sleeping in public, laws against panhandling, sleeping in vehicles, and food sharing. These laws are against the very constitution that everyone has, and against people’s basic human rights as afforded by the UN.
In 3 states, a Homeless Bill of Rights has been passed. These states are Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Illinois. Rhode Island was the first state in the nation to pass a homeless bill of rights, ensuring that no one is discriminated against based on their housing status. For the first time, basic rights; such as the right to vote, to access gainful employment, or gain housing; can’t be denied because someone lists a shelter or a street corner as their address.
Oregon is trying to pass a very similar law that will allow people to shelter themselves, cover themselves, and sleep in a vehicle that is legally parked. Our bill is
Senate Bill 629, and is backed by Senator Chip Shields.
If you are interested in learning more about, or want to support us, please feel free to attend our meeting that are held every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Friday of the month at 11:30 am. The address is 2249 E Burnside in Portland.
One conclusion that could be raised is criminalization laws are ineffective, expensive, and violate the civil rights of homeless people. Both the federal government and the international human rights monitors have recognized criminalization of homeless as a violation of the US human rights obligations.
One example of the expense and criminalization: The Utah Housing and Community Development Commission found that the annual cost of emergency room visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670. While providing an apartment and a social worker cost only $11,000. By providing housing to its homeless population, Utah has been able to reduce its rate of chronic homelessness by 74%.
Some solutions to this problem could be:
1. Governments investing in more affordable housing.
2. Local governments dedicating resources to ending homelessness in their cities.
3. Communities should adapt a housing first model, which is premised on the idea that pairing homeless people with immediate access to their own apartments is the best way to end their homelessness.
4. Communities should improve police training and practices.
5. Every state should enact Homeless Bill of Rights legislation.
These are just a few of the ideas that could help become a solution to the problem of homelessness. There are probably as many solutions to the problem as there are homeless, but another temporary solution is more rest areas like Right 2 Dream Too.
To get involved with Right 2 Dream Too, come by our rest area at 4th and W. Burnside.
All help is appreciated, and all donations are gladly accepted. You should also go to city council and speak out for your rights, homeless or not. If enough voices are heard on this issue, it will eventually make a difference. If not for yourself, then possibly someone you love.
“My wife and I came to Portland Oregon to change our lives….We are also homeless. Upon arriving to Portland with only $100 in our pocket, we set out to discover what Portland has to offer as far as help and shelters. We quickly found that there are no resources for couples whatsoever. You either have to have a mental illness or be a drug addict to get any help. Well since we are not drug addicts and have no mental illness, we felt helpless. After sleeping under a store front the first night I knew we HAD to find a place…a place to sleep together. Our second day out here was a struggle. I had started handing out my resume to business owners and had been hired by a local company and was to start work the following day. During all the stress and confusion we happened to walk by Right 2 Dream Too. The people we spoke with were nice and told me about how everything works and that they had a couple’s tent we could sleep in…Finally we had a place we could both sleep, off the streets and safe. Having a safe place to sleep at Right 2 Dream Too has allowed us to work and save money for our own place. As of today 2/12/2015 we have been there two weeks and are getting the keys to our apartment tomorrow- All this because we were given the Right 2 dream too.
(names redacted for privacy)